The Caged Bird Caterwauls – A Pantoum – Irma Do

I know why the caged bird sings
Sour sweet melodies of human maladies
Vibrating out into the fractured world
There is no accompanying harmony

Sour sweet melodies of human maladies
Poetic squawks implored yet ignored by broken ears
There is no accompanying harmony
When the free birds don’t want change

Poetic squawks implored yet ignored by broken ears
She caterwauls until the cage shatters
When the free birds don’t want change
Her powerful voice portends the power of action

She caterwauls until the cage shatters
Vibrating out into the fractured world
Her powerful voice portends the power of action
This is why the caged bird sings


The first and last line of this pantoum is the same (as the form requires) and comes from Maya Angelou’s literary autobiography of the same name. This book is part of the Feminist Book Title Challenge from Christine at Brave and Reckless. Maya Angelou (1928-2014) was a poet/writer/activist whose words and work centered the reality and truth of her African American female experience. Her poem, “Still I Rise,” is my current mantra especially after reading about the recent incidents of gun violence perpetrated by white supremacists in the USA, as well as the unfettered proliferation of anti-immigrant policies.

Maya Angelou also wrote a poem titled, “Caged Bird” (1983), which has the following refrain:

The caged bird sings with a fearful trill
Of things unknown but longed for still
And his tune is heard on the distant hill for
The caged bird sings of freedom.

You can read more of my writing at I Do Run

Featured Post: The Bluest Eye- Christine E. Ray

ivory hued dolls
with wavy golden locks
lovingly combed
and styled
sat carefully along
the bedroom shelf
their piercing blue eyes
painted open
in horror
their mouths forming
silent ‘O’s
of unheard screams
no protection
no comfort
can they offer
these porcelain witnesses
of the injustices
inflicted upon
her young brown body
by a racist society
by boys
and men
she knew
she trusted
her world
her skin
her psyche
shattered
by such
callous
disregard
unable to bear
their unblinking knowing
any longer
she turns each doll
so they face
the wall
and begins to slowly
painstakingly
sew herself
back together

© 2019 Christine Elizabeth Ray – All Rights Reserved

Toni in the Room with the Yellow Wallpaper – Irma Do

Her voice bounced off the yellow wallpaper,
Reverberating with strength and wisdom,
Uplifting the mahogany tones
In the old-fashioned design.
She refused to allow the surround to distract her,
Refused to explain her powerful gift.
She rose above inert ideas
Owning her freed self.


Toni Morrison died this past Monday, leaving behind an unapologetic legacy of literature centering Black American lives. She spoke candidly about racism in America, calling its function a “distraction” (read more here).

In this quadrille for De Jackson at dVerse (Quadrille # 83 – Voice), I have imagined her in the setting of Charlotte Gilman’s novel, The Yellow Wallpaper, to fulfill Christine’s Brave and Reckless August Feminist Book Title Challenge.

For me, Toni Morrison embodied the ultimate goal and greatest achievement for any writer/poet – that is, to write stories/poems as your Authentic Self.

You can read more of my writing at I Do Run